tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC February 25, 2010 12:00am-1:00am EST
today on the floor of the house congressman jim moran gave the country a piece of information that puts an outraged exclamation point on one contested matter of civil rights. >> i rise today to share the substance of an e-mail from an active-duty soldier in afghanistan. the response to an inquiry from his commanding officer related to the military's review of the don't ask, don't tell policy. the soldier shared how he and his partner of ten years have managed multiple deployments to iraq and to afghanistan. he explained that they survive like any couple does except, because of the don't ask, don't tell policy his partner would not be informed in the event of his death and could not make any emergency decisions that would
normally fall to a spouse. this situation is typical. even within his unit. he learned that a fellow soldier was also gay only after he was killed by an i.e.d. in iraq. the partner of the deceased soldier wrote the unit to say how much the victim had loved the military, how they were the only family he had ever known. >> congressman jim moran of virginia sharing details of a gay american soldier killed in action in iraq. the letter he describes is from a gay army ranger combat arms commander who's currently deployed in afghanistan. the letter is incredible. we have posted it at our website today, rachel.msnbc.com. i encourage you to check it out if you have an interest in this issue. well, the congress and some conservatives have been wringing their hands about repealing don't ask, don't tell, i want to leave you with one note on personnel policy and the military. buried in the inside pages of today's "new york times" in a five-sentence, one-paragraph-long story is notification that the pentagon has decided to lift the 100-year-old ban on women serving on u.s. navy submarines.
women make up about 15% of our navy's officers and sailors. since 1993 women have been assigned to surface ships in the navy but not submarines because, you know, submarines are sexy. or something. unlike aircraft carriers, which are totally not sexy. in any case, defense secretary bob gates has now told congress that the ban will be repealed. women's service will be phased in starting with women officers on larger submarines within a year or so. without fanfare, without congressional hearings, without a year-long review, without any noticeable peep from senator john mccain, the pentagon is ending a personnel ban on the basis that it was discriminatory and antiquated. no muss, no fuss. no humiliating, dishonest pseudointellectual public declarations of bigotry from members of congress. so far. what about the strength of the steel? the integrity of its design... or how it responds... in extreme situations? the deeper you look, the more you see the real differences. and the more you understand what it means to own a mercedes-benz.
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the level of u.s. government oversight of u.s. contractor blackwater, whatever it has or hasn't been, that level is likely about to change. we've learned at a senate armed services committee that in september 2008 more than 200 ak-47s were signed out by a blackwater employee, apparently named for this guy.
>> i am a cop, and you will respect my authority! >> that is eric cartman from south park. eric cartman is the name that a blackwater contractor used to sign out hundreds of ak-47s for blackwater employees' personal use in afghanistan. these were guns that were supposed to be issued to afghan police. and no, there was no one actually named eric cartman working for blackwater at the time and no blackwater employees at the time were not even allowed to possess weapons in afghanistan without permission. which of course they did not have. in december 2008 after grabbing these weapons they weren't supposed to have a blackwater contractor jumped on the back of a moving vehicle with his loaded weapon. when that moving vehicle hit a bump, that contractor accidentally shot another contractor in the head. what happened to the dukes of hazzard reckless shooter? blackwater sent the shooter back home to the u.s. that was it. blackwater was also nailed today for setting up a shell company for its operations in afghanistan to avoid being
associated with blackwater's infamy. >> the people that were working for you in the theater. so yeah, we worked for black quatwater. everybody knew we were blackwater. our paycheck came from blackwater. we were blackwater. blackwater, blackwater, blackwater. paravantd just appears to be a classic example of a cover operation in order for the people doing the contract not to know who they were really contracting with. >> despite all of this it was reported this week that blackwater is in the running for another new multimillion-dollar contract from the defense department to train afghan police. the police they stole all those weapons from under the name of the kid from "south park." joining us now is national security correspondent with "the nation" magazine jeremy scahill. he was at the hearing today. he's also the author of "blackwat "blackwater:spt rise of the world's most powerful mercenary army." stealing of weapons, unauthorized carrying of weapons, shooting civilians,
drinking, shooting each other, fraud, tax evasion. am i missing anything else in terms of what blackwater has been accused of in afghanistan? >> you're describing a perfect resume for employment with blackwater. you know, rachel, i actually like the show "south park" and what happens on every episode of "south park" is that poor little kenny, one of the characters on the show, dies every episode, and sometimes eric cartman kills him. well, in afghanistan when eric cartman, i.e. a blackwater employee, signs out 200 weapons and then they kill innocent afghan civilians with them, they don't come back the next episode. afghanistan is not south park. and what we saw today at this hearing is just the tip of the iceberg of what blackwater has been doing running this criminal enterprise around the world. in afghanistan they set up this shell company paravant in collaboration with a mammoth war giant, raytheon, which held the prime contract for this, and they set up this contract to try to hide the fact that the pentagon was once again hiring blackwater, this firm that's been under investigation by practically every federal entity in the united states. it's a shell company that was
used to essentially defraud the government by convincing the army that blackwater was not getting the contract but this company paravant. and as was pointed out in the hearing today, paravant represented in its contract documents that it had years of experience. paravant hadn't even existed for a few months when they got that contract to work in afghanistan. but i have to say, rachel, that we're talking about very small details in a much larger picture that has blackwater as the tip of the spear in assassination programs and involved with all sorts of other dirty deeds on behalf of the u.s. government and other corporations. >> jeremy, what do you think is the most serious of these new charges that have been leveled against the company? it seems at least politically notable to me that the company is being exposed tore having -- we're learning about the criminal history and the history of misconduct among the people blackwater is hiring. it seems important because they have this reputation that they hire only elite people. that seems to be over now. >> two of the guys that have been indicted now on manslaughter charges in the
united states for killing two afghan civilians, it's been revealed that one of them had gone awol from the military, had tested positive for cocaine, another had been on a do not deploy list, and blackwater then transferred him over to paravant, this shell company, so that he could be redeployed to afghanistan. so i think that when you take the combination of the fact that blackwater is essentially lying to the u.s. military, is in possession of hundreds of illicit weapons, is killing afghan civilians, and is overall endangering the lives of u.s. forces there through their misconduct, what you have is a very lethal cocktail. and the fact that the obama administration is now leaning toward giving blackwater not a multimillion-dollar contract, rachel, but a $1 billion contract to train the afghan national police, i think should sound emergency warning bells for subpoenas to be issued to eric prince and other blackwater executives to go in front of congress and answer for all the crimes their personnel have committed. >> investigative journalist jeremy scahill with "the nation." thanks for attending the hearing
today so you could report on it. thanks for being on the show. appreciate your time. >> thank you, rachel. >> coming up on "countdown" keith's very important abocomme about health care reform and tomorrow's summit. we will be right back. crystal light... drink 20% more of it. ♪ embrace the feeling. ♪ enjoy the flavor. ♪ crystal light. ♪ water your body. concierge claim centers. so i can just drop off my car and you'll take care of everything? yep, even the rental. what if i'm stuck at the office? if you can't come to us, we'll come to you in one of our immediate response vehicles! what if mother won't let me drive? then you probably wouldn't have had an accident in the first place. and we're walkin'! and we're walkin'...
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♪ so many, many reasons ♪ it's so m'm! m'm! good! ♪ that does it for us tonight. tomorrow's a big day in washington and a big day for the country as president obama hosts a televised health care summit. tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern msnbc will bring you the highlights of the day and analysis. that's 9:00 p.m. eastern. "hardball" is next. good night. blair house or blair witch project? let's play midnight "hardball." good evening.
i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, the summit of all fears. can you imagine in a few hours of television really seeing the difference between this countries's two main political parties to see who's for what and who's again and who's playing it straight and who isn't? then watch tomorrow's health care summit at blair house. will it be, as president obama says, the kind of government get-together we need in this country, or will it be, as gop congressman mike penn says, a setup? both sides are plotting for what could become a make or break moment for president obama. the democrats really want this health bill. the republicans really don't. i think that's a fair assessment. so the question is who's going to win this televised tug of war? tonight that's our top story. plus, is the gop becoming the party of south carolina's jim demint and like-minded right wingers where any compromise is considered an act of treachery? two items today. scott brown is taking heat for voting for the jobs bill. and mitt romney's under attack by rush limbaugh just for
backing john mccain's re-election to the senate out in arizona. also, we learned today from politico that the president's closest advisers are already planning his re-election strategy. here's a question. would obama be better off or worse off if the democrats kept control of congress in 2010 or if he repeated the experience of 1994 and lost, as bill clinton did, the house or the senate? plus, could we be seeing the beginning of a bush comeback? not george w. bush. jeb bush. finally, talk about foxes guarding the hen house. professor -- i'm just kidding. professor rod blagojevich is heading a panel at northwestern on the issue of ethics. that story of course in the sideshow tonight, where it belongs. we start with tomorrow's health care summit. with us two u.s. congressmen. chris van holg, democrat from maryland, and john shaddock, republican from arizona. well, let me ask you both to respond to a couple of clips and tell me if you think they're on the mark. here are some of the leaders talking. here's republican congressman
mike pence sunday on "meet the press." let's listen. >> republicans are ready to work. but what we can't help but feel like here is the democrats spell summit s-e-t-u-p. and all this is going to be is some media event used as a preamble to shove through obama care 2.0, we're not going to have any of it. >> here's senator mcconnell and senator reid on tuesday. let's listen. >> it appears as if the administration's already made up their mind to go forward with a beefed-up senate version and to try to jam it through under a seldom-used process that we commonly refer to around here as reconciliation. >> realistically, they should stop crying about reconciliation as if it's never been done before. it's done almost every congress. and they're the ones that used it more than anyone else. >> well, looks like congressman shaddock, that the whole thing's been gps'ed out by the democrats. it looks like there's going to be a meeting tomorrow followed by some sort of recognition you that didn't get together as two parties and a decision by the democrats to go it alone and go
through the up or down vote with the u.s. senate with a majority vote being sufficient. is that the way you see it, you republicans? >> well, let's hope not. i hope that what we do tomorrow is make real progress on areas where we can find agreement. i think there are areas where we can find agreement. i think there are areas such as pre-existing conditions. there are areas such as increasing competition and bringing down costs, where we can find agreement. and hopefully, that's what this meeting will be about. that's what the american people want. i hope we can get away from the politics of saying, well, this party doesn't have any ideas or that party wants it their way or no way at all. because what the american people want us to do is get this problem solved and deal with the fact that health care costs are going up faster than all other costs in our economy. and i think that's what tomorrow should be about. >> my question before i get to congressman van hollen is why should the democrats modify their bill according to your specifications unless you people are willing to vote for it if they do do that? >> well, i think we should really begin with any bill. i quite frankly think it's clear
the american people want the house or senate bills. 56% of them say they don't. but there are things on which we can agree and there are things on which republicans ought to be willing to agree with democrats on. republicans are certainly willing to agree that we should cover everyone with a pre-existing condition, that nobody should be left out. i think republicans are willing to embrace so-called universal coverage. i've introduced legislation virtually every year i've been here to cover every single american. so there are things that we can agree on. neither side should start, i think, with pre-existing conditions. >> pre-existing conditions. i know what you mean. in terms of the debate. let me go to congressman van holland. if seems to me if you listen to pfeiffer down at the white house, the spokesman for the president, it's pretty clear they see themselves probably heading towards an up or down vote in the senate based on majority rule, not on some 60-vote deal. what do you think they're head toward down at the white house? >> well, first, chris, look, i agree with john. we want to see how this goes tomorrow. the president has invited people down to the white house in good
faith to have what our republican colleagues, our democratic colleagues and the american people have been asking for, which is a big public discussion on health care. i think it's unfortunate that mike pence called it a setup. i mean, this is going to be in the full light of day. people are going to be watching. i think it's important that we find out exactly what people want to accomplish and what their different ideas for getting there are. and the president has put a proposal on the table. it will be interesting to see what our colleagues on the other side have to say, for example, on what john just raised on making sure we prohibit the insurance companies from denying people care based on pre-existing conditions. that's in the president's plan. that's not in the republican plan. >> but isn't it a setup in the sense that your party and the president are starting with a big plan, which the president released this monday, which is a conclusive, almost trillion-dollar plan to provide health care for the 30
million-plus that aren't covered and that's what you want to start with as your model and then make modifications. congressman shadegg, i believe the other republicans' view is start with something put together a proposal. >> as john said, they have put plans on the table. and the question is whether or not they measure up to the task the american people know we face when it comes to rising health care costs, trying to bring down the deficit, trying to bring down the costs because it is true they have put some things on the table. but the congressional budget office has looked at their plan and said after 20 years there are only 3 million more americans covered. but chris, the point is the president says here's how we're going to get there and he's invited our republican colleagues to say do we agree on the goals and if so what's your proposal? >> congressman shadegg, it does say to me there's a difference. you want to go in there with a vej mattic like ed mcmahon and start all over again, chop it up and decide what pieces utd like on both sides of the aisle. the president says basically
here's what i believe in, i'm willing to accept some modifications in it. it seems to me there's a total difference in approach in sitting at the table at 10:00 tomorrow morning. >> let's talk about the difference in approach. let's talk about one of the biggest issues confronting the american people on health care and that's pre-existing conditions. in point of fact the congress in 2006 passed legislation to address the problem of pre-existing conditions. it passed the house by a vote. it passed the senate by a uc. i happen to have written the bill. it's a bill that said every single state should create a high-risk pool to cover people with pre-existing conditions. i have an older sister who's a breast cancer survivor, and it said look, you create a high-risk pool, the federal government will help you create that pool and will help fund that pool and with that we can then cover every single american with a pre-existing condition. if we'd only passed that once and the only default was we forced the states to do it, why don't we do that now, require the states to do it, and if any state doesn't do it create a federal high-risk pool and solve
that one problem? i don't see how that -- >> but -- >> i don't see how that -- >> congressman van hollen, respond to that proposal. >> this is a great example. first of all, the president has included in the bill, if you look at the thing he put on the website, there's a provision to create high-risk pools, exactly what john said. many states have already created those. we should continue to create incentives. but the fact of the matter is the reason the congressional budget office looked at their plan and said after 20 years you're only going to get 3 million more americans on it is because even with those high-risk pools two things happen. number one, premiums keep going up. you can have a high-risk pool but if the premiums are through the roof, you can't afford it. and number two, under their plan insurance companies -- >> this is a good debate. let's -- >> the insurance companies can still tell you no. >> i hope you -- we're going to have it tomorrow. from 10:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon. blair house. then we'll be on tomorrow night, keith and i, to talk about it. but let me ask you this.
congressman shadegg, are you with the other republicans who are putting out the word negotiations with the white house, that the president of the united states should not to have a lectern tomorrow? he should sit at the table at the same level as you guys. is that important to you? >> i think quite frangly this whole discussion should have been at this table at the same level. i think in part the reason the president is doing this is because he left the writing of this bill to the congress. i think he may have thought it was going to be a bipartisan process but down at this end of pennsylvania avenue it was not a bipartisan process. we were not allowed, republicans were not allowed in the room in the commerce committee to write any of this bill when it went through markup in the committee, the democrats accepted a number of amendments, and then mrs. pelosi ripped those amendments out of the bill before it went to the rules committee. if this is going to be a discussion, it would be better if he sat at the table, but he's the president of the united states. >> here's what i think republicans are afraid of. and then i'll let congressman van hollen speak.
this was about optics, i think, the question whether the president should look elevated or not on television tomorrow. here's the scene from the white house summit held one year ago, an exchange between president obama and the man he beat for president, senator mccain. i think if you watch it you'll understand why the republicans are sensitive about this kind of higher plane for the president. >> i'm going to start with john mccain. he and i had some good debates about these issues. but -- and i mean what i say here. i think john has also been extraordinarily consistent and sincere about these issues. and i want to see if, john, you've got some thoughts. >> well, thanks, mr. president. thank you for doing this. i think it's very important. your helicopter is now going to cost as much as air force one. i don't think that there's any more graphic demonstration of how good ideas have cost
taxpayers an enormous amount of money. >> helicopter i have now seems perfectly adequate to me. of course, i've never had a helicopter before. so -- >> you know, that format, congressman van hollen, makes the president of the united states look like the principal of the school and john mccain, who lost a pretty good election to him, like a third-grader. do you think it's a fair format to have the president standing up there like god and -- or a principal at least and the republicans sitting there like pup snlz. >> i think it's a good exchange for people to have. you had the president appear -- >> you're not answering. >> well, i don't know if it's fair or not and i don't know -- >> well, why don't you know? it's a reasonable question. it's fair. >> is that -- was that a fair exchange? of course. and the republicans had the opportunity to focus on the issues they cared about. he said to our colleagues, you tell me what your top priority is. so the ball was in their court. just because the president has a good response to it doesn't mean
it's unfair. let me just say on these hearings, we had a lot of hearings. the american people knew we had hearings in the house, hearings in the senate, mark-ups in the house, three committees in the house two, committees in the senate. we had an extended period over the summer when three republicans and three democrats in the senate -- senator grassley changed his mind. he took the position for many, many months that in order to make health insurance reform work he needed everybody in the pool. and then he totally changed on that. >> i thought we were talking about the house process. >> we're talking about the whole process. the house process, you know we had hearings, we had mark-ups. >> you tell me, chris, how often it happens you that go to a market, the democrats agree to amendments in the markup, and the speaker then pulls those amendments out between when it leaves committee at the markup and when it gets to the rules committee before it comes to the floor. how fair is that? >> john, we had a number of amendments, as you know, that were adopted during that amendment process in the house. amendments were adopted in the republican side -- >> we didn't have a single
amendment on the floor. >> we have to do this tomorrow. >> so here's the opportunity to go down to the white house and talk about all the things you say you didn't get you that want to get -- >> tomorrow -- okay. tomorrow on national television on msnbc you'll be able to see that debate. of course i think one way to save time tomorrow is everybody, including the president, don't give an opening statement. that takes up the whole morning. i've been through those babies. anyway, thank you, congressman chris van hollen, who happens to be my congress marngs my wife and i's congressman and my kids' congressman. and he's a good one. and u.s. congressman john shadegg, who i understand is a real intellectual conservative and i've always respected that position. i mean it. and a reminder, tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern join keith olbermann and myself for a special edition of "countdown." keith and i will have full coverage of the president's health care summit for two hours. we're going to do a job tomorrow on what happened. coming up, as charlie crist fades in the numbers and scott brown gets pummeled by conservatives for voting for a
jobs bill, is the republican party only interested in one way of thinking? has it gone hard right? has the ten, the big one, become a pup tent? you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. the integrity of its design... or how it responds... in extreme situations? the deeper you look, the more you see the real differences. and the more you understand what it means to own a mercedes-benz. the c-class. see your authorized mercedes-benz dealer for special offers through mercedes-benz financial. ♪ and all of these. paid invoices go right here. bang! - that hasn't been paid yet. - what? - huh-uh. - all my business information is just a phone call away-- to my wife... who's not answering. announcer: there's a better way to run your business. intuit quickbooks online organizes your business in one place. it easily creates invoices and helps you stay on top of your business anytime, anywhere.
this is way better. get a 30-day free trial at intuit.com. florida governor charlie crist losing 18 points to marco rubio in their primary fight for senate. it's all but over. but that's not stopping some prominent republicans from kicking crist when he's down. jeb bush, who was governor before crist, said crist taking stimulus money was "unforgivable." talk about a put-away. and south carolina senator jim demint launched this internet ad, suggesting crist may switch parties. some republicans aren't pleased with demint's attack on crist. one senate aide told politico that spending money on a sleazy attack ad like this against a fellow republican is beyond the pale, even for demint. much more on these efforts to purify the republican party coming up on "hardball." not long. in fact, green beans lose half their vitamin c in a week. that's why green giant freezes them within 8 hours
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welcome back to "hardball." is the republican party going purist? scott brown, who was the savior of the party just a couple weeks ago, is taking a beating right now on the web, websites from conservatives for voting for the democrats' jobs bill. for that he's being thrashed. and mitt romney's under fire as well from rush limbaugh for nothing more than endorsing john mccain's re-election bid. now, that's verboaten. so is the gop becoming the small tent party of movement conservatives only? pat buchanan's an nbc political analyst and joan walsh is editor -- she's laughing already. editor in chief of salon. she's in chuckle-worthy mood today because we're going to talk about how the republican party has decidedly created a circular firing squad. pat, just a couple -- let's take a look at some of the action. here's senator jim demint, the ineffable one, at cpac -- this is newcastle bringing demint to cpac. here he was last week. >> i would rather have 30 marco rubios in the senate than 60
arlen specters. >> well, that's a pretty easy one. i'm not sure i'd argue with that. but go ahead, your thoughts. >> no, chris, what you're seeing is a very robust party. look, ronald reagan challenged gerald r. ford when he -- >> but he wanted the job. he had a reason to do that. what about this push -- just two weeks ago you guys were leaping up and down orgasmically over scott brown winning the senate seat. and now he's being pushed out of the party. three or four weeks ago or longer you were jumping up and down about chris christie and new jersey winning the governorship and rod mcdonald winning -- now these guys are being treated as oh, they're not really one of us now. >> guys are not purists. basically, they're regular republican. you've got a conservative republican in virginia. but look at sarah palin. she endorses mccain in arizona. she goes to texas and endorsed the governor because that's a buddy of hers. she endorses ron paul, who is a non-establishment candidate in an open thing in kentucky. chris, you've had these battles in your party -- >> but why is -- why do you see
rush limbaugh lambasting mitt romney, who's probably going to be your party nominee i think if you look down the road probably? it looks like it. for backing john mccain, your previous party nominee. how can you be more regular than that? here he is, rush limbaugh. one thing about rush, he's always on tape. >> i like mitt romney, but i think he's risking his career over endorsing mccain, who is so out of step with what's going on right now. it's -- well -- >> he's always conservative when he's running for re-election in arizona. you know, the tea parties have produced a wave of conservative that has swept republicans in name only aside. >> you know, this reminds me of the old democratic left. i know you might disagree with me, joan, because you occasionally do. november doesn't count. the ndc, the new democratic
coalition, all they cared about was who won the primary, happily nominating people who couldn't win general elections. it looks to me like the republican party really is creating a pup tent. >> well, they are. they're trying to fit the whole party into a tea bag at this point, chris. and i want to talk to my friend pat, who was sounding very reasonable a couple weeks ago when we talked. >> you guys will not stop -- it's the tea party movement. it's not the tea bag movement. i know the sexual connotation. it's really weird. but why do you guys keep calling it the tea bag party? >> i didn't call it the tea bag party. a tea bag is small. i'm just looking for a metaphor for small. please. i'm a catholic girl. i'm not -- there's no sexual references here. >> all right. >> anyway, continuing with pat, pat was very reasonable a couple weeks ago with me, chris, talking about how yes, scott brown is a massachusetts republican, it's very good to have these regional strong candidates, and he was very happy that he was elected, and
now you're right, scott brown is being pilloried by conservatives for his vote on the jobs bill. the other interesting thing about the jobs bill, the jobs bill really deserves attention because what you saw yesterday was only five republicans would vote to send it to the floor for a vote and then you got 13 votes because once it was going to pass some people wanted their names on it. so there's a tension within the party, attack the stimulus but then ask for the money and brag about getting the money. there's a lot of hypocrisy but scott brown is in a lot of trouble because of serious -- >> i don't think he's in a lot of trouble. but let's get back to -- he's not in a lot of trouble. this is a very marginal bill. let's get back to mitt romney. 1966, chris, richard nixon at the request of nelson rockefeller went up and endorsed rockefeller, who had abandon goldwater, and we needed the goldwater people -- it was a very cold, calculated move on nixon's part. and this is what romney's doing. he's going out there and endorsed mccain, who is the at
this time titular leader of the party. he had to do it because palin did it. if he had not done that, or endorsed j.d. hayworth, you would have seen palin get mccain's endorsement, which would mean something in those primaries. romney is playing for the big prize, and i think he's doing it -- i disagree with rush. this is a strategically smart move on romney's part. >> didn't nixon take a lot of heat for that? mad madison avenue. whatever it was called. >> that was 196 0rks the pact of fifth avenue, the munich of the republican party. but i urged -- i said you're not going tone doris rockefeller, are you? >> here's limbaugh speaking for himself again, attacking scott brown, the very recent hero of the right. >> you will not find me being a giant big-time pedal to the metal supporter of scott brown. we're talking about a massachusetts republican. now, i know he's opposed to health care, and we ought to continue to support him on that and he's opposed to cap and trade and he hasn't changed his mind. in fact, there's a story, scott
brown fumes over the new health care plan, he wants no part of it. but he did go along with his jobs bill, and he did say i hope my vote today is a strong step toward restoring bipartisanship in washington. i must tell you i'm not surprised by this. >> he is unbelievable. watching rush, the gestures and everything, he's on radio, what are all these gestures about? >> and then we see all this video. >> he's making the point there that there's not room in the republican party, at least the reality of the party, the reality that rules the party, he's not a leader. he says he's reformed sort of but he's a massachusetts republican, in other words, he's not a real republican. >> so you're not going to get the -- >> right. so then you're going to rule out the northeast. so you're not going to have any republicans in the northeast. you really do wind up shrinking the party to a southern and a southwestern strategy, which can't work. i think pat would agree with that.
rush is doing something very difficult and dangerous to the republican party. sure, pat. >> let me just say, look, look, we are divided on immigration. we are divided on iran. we're divided on abortion. we're divided on gay rights. we're divided on -- >> birthers. >> we're divided on everything. but what they're united on this fall, chris, and you don't seem to understand, is everybody is out to get pelosi and reid and obama and everything -- >> what is that for? >> they're opposed to him. socialism, whatever you call it, big government. i think 38% of gdp spent by government approaches european socialism, yes. and that's what unites -- >> why do you guys -- you've got hayworth out there, by the way, still bashing away. he wants to see his birth certificate. why can't your party just drop that baby like you dropped the berkshires years ago? why don't you drop him? >> when i went out and campaigned, chris, people were talking about the black helicopters. fine -- >> it's crazy, though. >> i don't care. >> you want the crazy folks? >> that's 60% of our constituents. >> okay.
thank you, pat. >> you said it. i didn't. >> easter loses an argument he falls back on his good sense of humor and says okay, i've got some wackos behind me. anyway, pat buchanan. who won't say no to a wacko vote. and joan walsh. thank you. up next, it's just the trouble when the balance becomes crazies. rod blagojevich, the former governor of illinois, is heading up a panel at northwestern, a great university. he's going to be leading the discussion on ethics. don't you love it? stick around for professor rod blagojevich. b-rod's teaching ethics. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. right past the counter... and you get to choose any car in the aisle. choose any car? you cannot be serious! okay. seriously, you choose. go national. go like a pro. ♪ ♪ hey, now, now, we're going down, down ♪ ♪ and we'll ride the bus there ♪ pay the bus fare ♪ or we find a new reason [ female announcer ] something unexpected to the world of multigrain... taste. ♪ hey, now, now
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now for the sideshow. one of the smart rules of politics is never, repeat, never compare anything to hitler. and the horror that he wrought on this planet. well, that's what senator bernie centers of vermont has just done. yesterday he compared climate change skeptics to those who downplayed the threat of nazi germany in the 1930s. here he is talking up the need for climate change action at the budget hearings for the epa. >> the reason that this debate is so important is that it reminds me in some ways of the debate taking place in this country and around the world in the late 1930s. and during that period with nazism and fascism growing, a real danger to the united states and democratic countries all
over the world, there were people in this congress, in the british parliament, saying don't worry, hitler's not real, it will disappear, we don't have to be prepared to take it on. >> well, the people who do oppose action on climate change right now do so not out of ignorance but out of two motives. i think one is business. and two, their anti-intellect l anti-intellectuali anti-intellectualism. neither are defensible when the victim of their position is the only planet we have. next, talk about foxes guarding the henhouse. next week former illinois governor, as i said, rod blagojevich is slated to headline a northwestern university panel on ethics in politics. of course b-rod is still facing a federal corruption case on charges he tried to sell president obama's old senate seat. well, what has he got to say, i wonder? anyway, it's certainly going to be an interesting q and a session out there in northwestern university. finally, you think the birther movement has died down? think again. yesterday an arizona state house committee approved a state legislative measure that would require presidential candidates who want to appear on the ballot
in arizona henceforth to submit documents proving they meet the requirements of office. that means they have to prove citizenship with a birth certificate. 40 of the state's 90 legislators have signed on, all are republican. up next, it's never too early to think about 2012, and we've got the first look here at "hardball" at president obama's re-election strategy. would the president actually be better off, by the way-f democrats lost control of the house or senate the way bill clinton did back in '94 and then went on to victory in '96? that's next. you're watching "hardball," only on snx. [ camera shutter clicking ]
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welcome back to "hardball." politico's mike allen reports today that president obama's top advisers are quietly laying the groundwork for his re-election campaign in 2012. but before they get to 212 they've got to get through 2010. steve hillenbrand is a former democratic strategist and campaign manager for the 2008 obama campaign. and jonathan martin, senior writer for politico. gentlemen, it's a great group to have here, you two being a group. and this is the question. is it serious business -- by the way, who's floating this story that president obama would be more likely to get re-elected with some kind of a healthy margin if he loses the congress this november? who's pushing that story? >> i don't know. >> are republicans pushing it? >> yeah. republicans are pushing it. >> why are they pushing it? >> because this is what one said, tom davis, very smart guy, former congressman. he said it is easier for him to get re-elected if you've got a split government. if democrats still have both houses of congress overt course of the next two years, it makes an easier argument for the republicans to run against all
democrats in 2012, a pox on their house. it's a tougher sell if you have a divided government. >> doesn't that depress the party to wills -- doesn't that depress his leadership and say you've been a lousy president if you can't keep the congress? i can see that splitting the other way. >> i think it's really going to depend on the success we have. if he moves forward and provides the change that he campaigned on, democrats are going to be strong this fall and he'll be strong for re-election. >> did it help clinton to get beaten in the house and senate in '94 with newt gingrich's revolution, his compact with america? >> i think because newt gingrich and bob dole went too far, they became incredibly strong targets for clinton to go after. >> don't you remember clinton, after he lost the '94 election, saying i'm still relevant and then having to give that kissy speech about the era of big government's over and then signing the welfare bill? he had to do a lot of crawling to get re-elected. it wasn't too healthy for him. >> it was not pretty. >> and he didn't look that strong a president because of it. i'm saying victory's good, defeat's not. is that too complicated? >> the long-term argument is
this, too. in '94 if they don't have a gop takeover he's not impeached in the second term. bottom line, right? >> let me ask you this. you're an expert, steve. can you run the same kind of campaign twice? move to chicago, david plouffe runs the campaign, he strategizes the whole thing, tries to replicate it. axelrod goes home with his nice family back to chicago. can you do a campaign the same way the second time or is there something necessarily that erodes in the way you run the second time? you've got to do something different the second time. >> you're nice to say i'm an expert, but i don't think i am. i do believe that you cannot replicate it exactly. there are some fundamental reasons to get out of washington and to headquarter in chicago if that's the decision of the president. but the idea of going back and trying to redo what was created last time, it was a very special circumstance. it was a lot about hope and change, but it was also a lot about doing things differently than george bush -- >> do you think a lot of white people, john, the tricky question, voted for barack obama
because they wanted to see change in intersection wanted to prove america was open to change and open to an african-american president who second time around will go you know, actually i'm a republican and i've had a good look at this guy and i think he's a fine fellow but i'm a republican and he's a social democrat, he's to my left, i'm not going to vote for him the second time? i can see people thinking like that. >> chris, the president got a lot of votes two years ago for a lot of different reasons. i think that may be one of them. i don't think when folks look at him in 2012 if they voted for him before i don't think they're going to vote for him or against him because of the race issue. if they voted for him the first time around it's obviously bigger than that issue. i don't think that's going to be central. >> you don't think ideology will be more important the second time now that he has a track record? >> i think it's going to be a referendum. has he done good over the course of the past four years? do we rehire him for four more years? isn't that always the question for -- >> do you think he's more liberal than he looked when he ran? has he turned out to be more liberal than he looked? is that a hard question? that's not a hard question. does he look more liberal than he did when he ran?
>> i think steve and the campaign were very, very skilled in running against john mccain and avoiding thorny -- >> it was easy to vote against john mccain, he was tired-e was running eight years later than he should have ran, he looked like -- >> my point is -- >> i'll ask you the same question. does he look more liberal now than he did when he ran? >> he doesn't. >> he does look more liberal. >> i think the republicans are trying to paint him as more liberal. i don't believe -- >> they haven't succeeded you're saying? >> no. chris, this whole idea that supporting health care reform is a big liberal agenda, a far left liberal agenda, is crazy. are we siding with the big insurance companies? are we siding with american consumers? >> we have a new poll, 38-38, people are basically 50-50 now on whether they want this thing to pass. >> what's this thing? >> the health care bill as they understand it to be right now. that's not a big ticket. >> i think our side, the democratic side, has failed to communicate this in a strong
way. this really is about -- >> let's make it easier. i'm pulling teeth here. because i'm just asking you open questions trying to get you into saying something. this is the scoop where you can bet on elections. they're saying mitt romney's got a 25% chance. sarah palin -- i think this is going to fade for a while. a 23% chance. and thune is the young guy from out west. a 10%. which one of those do you think barack obama would like to face right now, jonathan? just based on your reporting. >> oh, sarah palin. absolutely. because she's already defined in the minds of most american people. any politician wants to run against somebody who's already defined, somebody whose negatives outweigh their positives which right now in the polls she is. that's an easy question. but here's the thing. it's february of 2010. chris, there's two years to go here. we don't know if any of those folks are going to run. some of them probably will. who knows -- >> do you want to go away and come back in two years or -- >> let's keep talking.
>> okay. everybody's a young jack germond around here. well, we can't wait. these polls don't mean anything. >> time will tell, chris. time will tell. >> i'm taking a wait and see attitude toward that one. you can't do that anymore, john. let me ask you a question. do you agree with him that sarah palin's the best target to go against? >> yes. >> why? >> again, she's defined. she's controversial. she's a little bit crazy, chris. >> a little bit crazy. >> she's very polarizing. >> and you can work at making her a little more crazy by the election. >> she can do that on her own. >> mitt romney, an interesting personality. he's a straight arrow like al gore. can he overcome that sort of straight arrow i'm the smartest kid in the class image and become somebody you can imagine as the guy you want to watch on television and lead you politically for the next four years? can he do that? >> he's got the politician. their hope is he's going to be the mr. fix-it, this country's in a ditch, the economy's not -- >> so he won't be -- no
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